A study abroad programme is a big investment, and if you are considering joining one of our courses you are bound to have a lot of questions about what awaits you in Russia and at Language Link. Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, covering everything from safety to school facilities and accreditation to accommodation. If you have a question that doesn't feature in this list, please write to us at email@example.com, and we will be very happy to help.
Questions about Studying at Language Link
Q: Why choose Language Link?
Q: What are the usual age ranges and nationalities of students at your schools?
Q: Do you offer any cultural programmes, or sightseeing and social opportunities?
Q: Will I have Internet access? What are the schools' facilities like?
Q: Which textbooks are used in lessons?
Q: Will my Russian studies at Language Link be accredited by my university?
Q: When do the courses start and end?
Q: How and when can I apply?
Q: How much will my Russian improve during my stay?
Questions about Living in Russia
Q: What will my LL accommodation be like? What if I have my own place to stay?
Q: How expensive is life in Russia?
Q: How is it best to bring money?
Q: How long does it take to get a Russian visa? What kind of visa will I get?
Q: Do you provide health and/or medical insurance for your students?
Q: What is the weather like in Russia? What clothes should I bring?
Q: Is it safe to live in Russia?
Q: What are the procedures for arriving in Russia?
A: Since 1975, Language Link Schools have helped over 200,000 students from over 60 countries to improve their foreign language abilities. By employing only qualified native speakers with international experience, and offering clients exemplary personal care and attention, Language Link has become the largest provider of educational services in Central and Eastern Europe today. Our courses of Russian are approved by the local educational authorities as well as UK and US universities, and have been designed for every level from complete beginners to highly advanced. Our schools are all modern and well-equipped and with convenient city-centre locations. Additionally, Language Link, unlike many foreign businesses operating in Russia today, has gone 'that extra mile' necessary to meet the stringent requirements of the Russian Ministry of Education and is able to provide its language services in complete accordance with Russian law.
A: Language Link students range in age from their teens to their 60's, and come from literally every corner of the world. Although about half our students tend to come from the UK and the USA, we have also welcomed citizens of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Canada, Australia, Togo, Nigeria, Turkey, Japan… the list is endless!
A: If you are looking for a purely cultural programme, then you may be interested in "Russian language + “ programmes or "Summer Holiday in Moscow", unique opportunities to experience the life and culture of contemporary Russia first-hand. Apart from language tuition, the Summer Holiday in Moscow programme includes three lectures (in English or in other native for students language) about contemporary Russian authors, philosophers and economists, plus many fascinating excursions to sites of interest, concerts, theatres and more. For details, see Season programs.
For courses such as Russian for Christians and Academic Russian, excursions are arranged to complement the topics of study (e.g. to monasteries and churches, or sites of historical/literary interest).
Language Link also offers all our students the chance to participate in guided excursions to the most famous landmarks and museums of the city where they are studying, be it Moscow, St Petersburg or Volgograd. We are equally happy to offer students help and advice in arranging independent trips, theatre and concert tickets during their programme (please note that all excursions are subject to an additional fee unless included in the programme by prior agreement).
A: Free internet access is available at Language Link’s Moscow school. Most students prefer to use local internet cafes, which offer excellent facilities for very reasonable prices ($1-$2.5 /hour). There are 2 good internet cafes within 5 minutes' walk of our Moscow school, and cafes within 10 minutes' walk of our schools in St Petersburg and Volgograd.
As regards other facilities, all our schools offer newly renovated, comfortable and bright classrooms, equipped with video and DVD players for use during lessons. Students are welcome to make use of our small libraries of learning resources (books, dictionaries, films on DVD and video). In our Moscow school, free refreshments are provided during breaks, encouraging students to socialize together between and after lessons. To celebrate the beginning or end of a course, we even organize traditional Russian tea parties with our genuine Russian samovar!
A: As there is no universally acknowledged 'ideal' textbook or series of materials for learning Russian, our teachers use a combination of different books, choosing and adapting material to best suit your particular learning style. That said there are certain textbooks that are usually used as a base for General and Intensive Russian:
For beginner to intermediate levels, the main textbooks are "Poekhali! (Let's Go!)" P.1 by S.Chernyshov, “Poekhali!” P.2 by S.Chernyshov and A.Chernyshova, “Russian language: 5 elements” for A1 level by T.Esmantova, “Survival Russian" by N.Karavanova, and "Basic Russian" by A.Latysheva, R.Yushkina, G.Tyurina; “Russian Express” P.1 by S.Hachaturova.
For upper-intermediate and advanced courses preferred textbooks include "A Living Russian Grammar" by L.Groushevskaya, N.Bitekhtina; “Russian language: 5 elements” for A2 and B1 levels by T.Esmantova; “Road to Russia” by V.Antonova, M.Nakhabin, A.Tolstykh; “Zhili-Byli…” for basic level by L.Miller, L.Politova; “Russia. Day to day” by A.Rodimkina, N.Landsman; "Window on Russia" by L. Skorokhodov and O. Khorokhordina, "Let's improve our Russian!" by N.Volkova and D.Phillips, "Heart-to-heart Conversation" by E.Zharkova. All courses are supplemented by materials from other textbooks and exercise books, literature and the press.
A: To answer this question you will need to speak to your professors and the Study Abroad Coordinator at your university/college. Working in our favour is the fact that Language Link runs accredited academic programmes for Goucher College and John Hopkins University of the USA, and RLUS of the UK (RLUS, Russian Language Undergraduate Studies: the educational organization which organizes year-abroad courses for most undergraduates studying Russian in British universities). The standard of tuition in our Centre for Russian Language and Culture Studies is extremely high, and many of our teachers are specialists in academic fields (translation, literature, history, etc.) However, we understand that each institution applies its own criteria when accrediting study abroad, so accreditation cannot be guaranteed. We are happy to correspond with your professors/study abroad coordinators to discuss the issue, and to provide comprehensive course descriptions upon request.
A: Language Link has a policy of 'open groups', so it is possible to start and end most of our standard courses (General, Intensive or Conversational Russian) at any time convenient for you. The only limiting factors are whether or not there are places available in a group of the appropriate course and level for the time period you want (individual courses can be arranged any time you wish). Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about availability.
If you are learning Russian from scratch, then we recommend starting with one of our regular 2-week intensive courses for complete beginners that run every month in Moscow. More details can be found in Programs.
If you would like to join our prestigious academic semester programme, these run from early September to December in Moscow, and from February to May or June in Moscow and Volgograd.
A: You can apply for any course by writing to us at email@example.com,you would like to study, your preferred location, the course you are interested in (group or individual, amount of tuition per week, type of course), and your current proficiency level (if you are unsure of your level, you can use our Test On-Line).You should apply at least 1 month before you wish to arrive if you want Language Link to provide you with visa support. One of our administrators will then contact you about course availability and help you to arrange a programme according to your specifications.
A: The longer you stay in Russia, the more effort you put in and the more hours you study, the more progress you will make. Some of our talented past students have gone from zero to a good intermediate level of fluency within 6 months, studying intensively (20+ academic hours per week). You can speed up your progress by opting for home-stay accommodation and practicing your Russian at every opportunity. Even on shorter programmes you should be able to make a significant impact on your fluency level and understanding, as studying in a Russian-speaking environment is 10 times more effective than studying in other countries, however good your teachers are at home.
A: Language Link offers a range of accommodation possibilities (family home-stay, apartment, hotel or hostel, depending on which city you are based in). Descriptions of each are given on the Accommodation page of this site. If you decide to stay in Language Link accommodation, whichever option you choose, we guarantee that it will be comfortable, clean and equipped with all the necessary basics.
If you would rather arrange your own accommodation, that is not a problem. The only point to bear in mind is whether or not you will be able to register your visa at your address - for this, you need the permission of your landlord.
A (by one of our British colleague): That’s a pretty difficult question, as things all depend on your lifestyle and tastes. A common misconception is that Russia is a cheap country. That was true a few years ago. In fact, I remember the first time I came to Russia in 1997 and there were six of us on a bus together and there was no conductor so we didn’t have a ticket. The police came on and checked tickets and we had to pay a fine. Our Russian friend burst into tears as the fine was so big and kept apologising for us having to pay it. How much was it? The total for all six of us came to one British pound. At that time a regular ticket for one person was 80 pence, so one pound for six people as a fine was laughable.
Even in 2002, I would buy products in Russia and take them home to England as they were cheaper here than at home. Sadly, those days are gone. Now, in 2014, public transport is still cheaper than in Europe, but other goods are more expensive. These days I take an empty suitcase home with me every time I go to the UK and fill it up with clothes, food and other bits and bobs. Yes, Moscow is more expensive than London. It’s not just Moscow: I’ve travelled the length and breadth of this huge country and although other cities are cheaper than Moscow, the general tendency is still that I can buy basic goods cheaper in England than in most places in Russia.
As mentioned, this is cheaper than in Europe. In Moscow, the metro currently costs 40 roubles per ride or you can get passes which are cheaper. A 60-trip card, for example, costs 1300 roubles and lasts 90 days. Travelling inter-city is becoming more expensive, but is still cheaper than in the west, especially considering the distances and the fact that bedding is provided for a decent night’s sleep.
As mentioned earlier, it’s generally cheaper to shop for food in Europe, and prices are on a par with costs in the US. Eating out, drinking in bars and clubbing are typically about the same as in the west, though depending on the establishment it could be more expensive here. Lunchtime on a weekday is the best time to eat out, as ‘Business Lunch’ is a pretty widespread concept in Russia. You can get a two or three course meal with a drink for a very reasonable price. 200-300 roubles is quite normal for a business lunch, though more upmarket places will obviously charge more.
Cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys, skating rinks, games arcades, pool halls, etc are becoming increasingly common and popular in Russia, particularly with the growth of the number of western-style shopping malls. These malls, known here as Trade-Entertainment Complexes, contain all you need for a day out: a huge range of shops, restaurants and cafes, and a choice of entertainment options for all the family’s needs. Costs of using the entertainment facilities vary depending on the time of day and day of the week. Prices are usually the same as you’d expect in the west, or slightly higher. It can be possible to get cheap theatre tickets, but often these are for shows at less popular times or not the best view of the stage. For a good seat at a popular time, expect to pay around $50-100.
Phones and Internet
Sim-cards are cheap in Russia and always come with some credit already on them. If you don’t have a mobile phone, or forgot to unlock it before coming to Russia, you can buy a basic phone for 1000 roubles. The more sophisticated the phone, obviously the higher the price. If you’re calling within Russia, using your Russian mobile is fine, but if you want to call abroad, it’s best to buy a phone card as this will work out much cheaper. A 100-rouble phone card, for example, can last up to about 2 hours if you’re calling landlines in the USA or Europe. If your friends and family want to call you, receiving calls on your Russian mobile is free as long as you are located in the city in which you bought the sim-card. Wi-fi access is pretty common, particularly among the bigger cafe or fast food chains or in hotels, so you could even use Skype for free! If you’re staying in Russia for some time, it might be worth setting up a broadband connection in your flat. Prices start around 500 roubles per month.
As mentioned earlier, I do my clothes shopping in the UK as it’s cheaper. It is therefore advisable to come to Russia with the types of clothes that you expect that you’ll need during your time here. That said, you might find a bargain from time to time in the sales, but don’t count on this. The only thing I would recommend buying in Russia is warm footwear. In the west, you simply can’t find good fur-lined footwear as you don’t tend to need it as much. There are countless shoe stores in Russia and you’re sure to find something warm and stylish for the winter. Don’t expect your footwear to last too long though – the streets are gritted with salt, which does a great job of damaging your boots over a relatively short period of time.
The information above is a rough guide. As you’ll have noticed, very few actual prices are quoted. This is because costs differ not only between Moscow and other cities, but also from shop to shop. How much you spend will also greatly depend on your lifestyle and how often you eat out, go clubbing, shopping, etc. As a general guide, it’s best to budget for what you would normally spend on such aspects generally, and add a little more. Not only can things be a little more expensive than what you’re used to, but people tend to find that they go out more than normal to socialise with other people. Bear that in mind when you’re thinking about your finances!
A: Although many prices are listed in US Dollars or Euros (including on this website), the only currency accepted in Russia is the Russian Rouble. The Rouble cannot currently be purchased outside Russia, so we recommend bringing cash cards/credit cards to withdraw money from ATMs (which are common in major cities). As back up, it is advisable to bring cash US Dollars (in good condition, with no creases or tears), which can be exchanged at exchange points all over the city, many of which are open 24 hours a day. Travellers' cheques tend to be less convenient as few banks exchange them.
A: The type of visa Language Link issues for you depends on how long you want to study with us. For courses of less than 1 month, we generally issue tourist or student visas invitations. If your course is longer than 3 months, then we can issue you with a 6- or 12-month multi-entry student visa. Sometimes we issue invitations for initial 3-month single-entry visas, which can be converted to year-long multi-entry visas after arrival in Russia.
It usually takes 12-14 working days for us to process invitations for visas, plus 3 - 5 days to have them delivered to your address by courier. Visa processing at your nearest Russian Consulate can take from 1 day to 3 weeks, depending on how much you are willing to pay, and whether you apply by post or in person.
The visa process is undeniably time-consuming, and can sometimes involve frustrating delays, so if you need to get a Russian visa we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.
A: We strongly recommend securing your own international health and medical insurance before you arrive. There are some high-quality European and American medical centres in Moscow and St Petersburg (e.g. American Medical Centre, International SOS, Euromed), and good private Russian clinics in Moscow, St Petersburg and Volgograd. You might also consider having an evacuation rider included in your policy. Please remember that in order to obtain a visa valid for longer than three months, Russian law requires visitors to be HIV-tested before (or sometimes after) they arrive.
A: The weather in Moscow, St Petersburg and Volgograd varies greatly according to season. The winters are long and cold (with lots of snow and average temperatures around -10 degrees Celsius), and the summers are hot with occasional thunderstorms. As for what types of clothes to bring, it depends on what time of year it is, but remember two crucial points about life in these cities: 1) You will be walking a lot; feet and public transportation are the main modes of transportation in large Russian cities, so your shoes will take a beating and will get quite dirty, i.e. light-coloured shoes are not recommended 2) The same goes for clothes. Russians do wear bright things (shoes included), but dirt naturally stands out more on brighter clothes than it does on darker ones. So, you can see why a tendency toward wearing darker clothes can be seen on the streets of Russian cities. No one wants to be washing their clothes every day! For more information on the weather, try visiting CNN Online or the BBC website.
A: Is it safe to live in New York or London? Moscow and St Petersburg are neither safer nor more dangerous than any other large cities, although there is admittedly a higher than average risk of icicles falling off high buildings and hitting you on the head during the spring thaw. The mafia will take no notice of you whatsoever. Recent events have obviously made terrorism a concern, but sadly, no city in the world is immune from that threat these days. Volgograd may be considered slightly quieter, and thus safer, but the following advice applies to all 3 cities.
It's all just a question of common sense: you should be careful when going out late at night, and try not to draw attention to yourself, i.e. don't talk loudly in English or flash money/valuables around. If you go out for the evening, stay in a group, and plan it so that you accompany each other home right up to the front door. Women are strongly recommended not to walk home alone after 11pm, and they should be prepared to put up with occasional verbal harassment late at night, as Russian males who have had too much to drink might well shout things at girls on the street. It's irritating and impolite, but if you ignore them they almost always stop bothering you. Guys should also be careful when out late at night in large English-speaking groups, as nationalism is on the rise in Russia as a whole. People of dark skin tones will be more at risk of abuse than others, and may be discriminated against by the police (i.e. stopped more often for ID checks). Smaller streets can be badly lit, so try and keep to the main streets if possible when it's dark. Avoid carrying with you more cash than you need - pick-pocketing is a problem in the metro, particularly in Petersburg. None of this advice is intended to scare you, and in any case, most of it applies anywhere in the world. With luck, your stay here should pass off without you being hassled in any way, but you should know the risks in order to avoid them.
A: Students coming to Moscow or Volgograd usually arrive at one of Moscow’s two international airports – Sheremetevo 2 or Domodedovo. Domodedovo was reconstructed in 2002 and according to Skytrax, is one of the top three airports in Eastern Europe.
Sheremetevo is closely behind Domodedovo in terms of the number of passengers flying in, and has 5 terminals. By 2015 the airport is estimated to become the best airport in Europe in terms of customer service. It is also predicted that by 2015 the airport will serve 35 million passengers per year. The airport’s quality management system is certified at the standard ISO 9001:2008
The main international airport in Saint-Petersburg is Pulkovo. In 2009, the airport came 4th in Russia in terms of the number of passengers coming into and leaving the airport.
The airports in Rostov-on-Don and Ufa aren’t serviced by many international flights, therefore you can choose a flight with a layover in another city.
Koltsovo, the international airport in Ekaterinburg, is the biggest regional airport in Russia. More than 40 Russian and foreign air companies connect Ekaterinburg with more than 100 cities around the world.